There’s no denying that Ronald G. Evens, MD, professor of radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is a born leader. This “whiz kid from the start,” as Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth once called him, has an undisputed record as an outstanding medical administrator.
In 1971, one year after he’d finished his nuclear medicine fellowship, Dr. Evens, 31 at the time, was selected as director of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, his alma mater.
When recruiting department leaders for Mallinckrodt, Dr. Evens turned the focus of his efforts to younger researchers with demonstrated appetites for new knowledge and early experience developing innovative approaches to acquiring that knowledge.
He was also an early advocate for using computers in medical care. Under his leadership, Mallinckrodt installed its first computer system in 1975, a $120,000 unit known as the PDP-11. By 1981, Mallinckrodt had seven computer systems with 128 terminals to help track patients and process information.
By the 1980s, Dr. Evens had expanded Mallinckrodt into one of the five largest radiology departments in the world, transforming it from a regional leader among radiology schools into a world-renowned center for state-of-the-art treatment, training and research. He recruited the institute’s first minority and female faculty and expanded the enrollment of female and minority students.
Dr. Evens’ 28 years at the helm marked a groundbreaking period that saw the institute’s faculty pioneer applications for new imaging technologies such as computerized tomography, ultrasonic scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) and develop a plethora of specialized radioactive imaging agents, among many other accomplishments.
That might seem like a sufficient set of achievements for one lifetime, but the native of Herculaneum, Missouri, was just getting started. He went on to serve terms as president of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital and as acting president of the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College. He was also the university’s vice chancellor for finance and administration. In a few instances, he held two major leadership positions at once.
Dr. Evens, the first in his family to graduate from college, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in Arts & Sciences from Washington University in 1961. Three years later, he graduated from the School of Medicine at the top of his class.
Dr. Evens completed his post-graduate training in St. Louis and Bethesda, Maryland. Following his residency, he was awarded a Picker Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences, which allowed him to study in the graduate schools of business administration and education at Washington University.
In 1972, he was honored with the first endowed chair in radiology, as the Elizabeth Mallinckrodt Professor. He became the Olin School of Business Professor of Economics in 1988. Together with many friends, he and his wife, retired nurse Hanna Evens, created the Ronald and Hanna Evens Chair in Women’s Health at Mallinckrodt in 2005.
Dr. Evens is the author of more than 250 articles and textbooks on business and health care. His expertise in both fields has led him to act as a consultant for General Electric, Siemens, the National Institutes of Health, the United States Congress, the governments of Israel and New Zealand, and other private and public entities.
Dr. Evens has served in leadership roles for many societies and organizations, including the Association of University Radiologists, American Roentgen Ray Society and the Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments.
He has also served as chair and president of the American College of Radiology, as chairman of the Board of Regents for the National Library of Medicine and as chairman of the board of directors for the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Evens is also an accomplished athlete who has at least one resume that lists both his best marathon time, 3 hours and 15 minutes, and his golf handicap, which is 20. (The golf handicap is still the same, but the running times are going up.) He is an elder of the Kirkwood Presbyterian Church and has served on the boards of several community organizations, including the United Way and the Boy Scouts of America.
Dr. Evens and his wife live in Kirkwood, Missouri. They have three children and seven grandchildren.